All the winners of the FIFA Confederations Cup

FIFA Confederations Cup kicks off in Russia on June 17

The tenth edition of the FIFA Confederations Cup starts on 17th June with hosts Russia taking on the 2016 OFC Nations Cup winners New Zealand at the Krestovsky Stadium in St.Petersburg.

With all the FIFA Confederation Champions competing in addition to the reigning World Champions Germany and the 2018 FIFA World Cup hosts Russia, the tourney promises to bring a great level of excitement during the European football offseason.

While the Confederations Cup has never really been considered a huge international honour in comparison to the FIFA World Cup, the Euros or the Copa America, top players have continuously graced the event to win international glory. This year’s Championships will see Germany start as huge favourites with only the European Champions Portugal seeming a viable threat.

Chile’s victorious 2015 Copa America campaign means that they qualify for the tournament at the expense of the two South American powerhouses Brazil and Argentina. AFC Cup Champions Australia, African Champions Cameroon and the CONCACAF Champions Mexico complete the 8-nation tournament.

With just about a week to go for the tournament to begin, we take a look at the five teams who have won this tournament in the past.

#5 Mexico – 1999

Mexico would beat Brazil to win the 1999 edition

Contrary to popular belief, it wasn’t at the 2002 World Cup where Ronaldinho first displayed his scintillating array of skills, but at the 1999 Confederations Cup held in Mexico. With six goals in the competition, ‘Ronnie’ would win the Golden Shoe as well as the Golden Ball – even though he couldn’t spearhead his country to the title.

That glory would go to Cuauhtemoc Blanco – the forward would also score six goals which led hosts Mexico to their only title triumph in intercontinental tournaments.

The founder of the Cuauhtemina or Blanco Trick – where Blanco traps the ball between his feet and jumps through multiple defenders – almost blew the roof off the 115,000 capacity Estadio Azteca as he scored four times in El Tri’s 5-1 opening match win over Saudi Arabia en route to topping their group and setting up a semi-final clash against arch rivals the United States who had sent Germany packing in the group stages.

This time, Blanco would score a 97th-minute golden goal to send the Yanks home and move into the final. Awaiting them would be blood thirsty Brazil who had thrashed Saudi Arabia 8-2 in the semi-finals with Ronaldinho scoring a hat-trick.

The final at the Azteca would be the greatest in the history of the tournament – Mexico, bolstered by the home support took a 2-0 lead under 30 minutes only to see the Brazilians bring the score to 2-2 in the 47th minute. Undeterred, Mexico would score two more goals – through Miguel Zepeda and Blanco - to open up a 4-2 lead before Ze Roberto struck back a minute after Mexico’s fourth goal to make it 4-3.

The remaining half an hour would see back and forth action, but Ronaldinho and co would not be able to break through the Mexican defence. Mexico would be the first host country to win the tournament.

#4 Denmark – 1995

The Laudrup brothers would lead Denmark to victory in the 95 edition

The second and final edition of the King Fahd Cup - before being renamed as the FIFA Confederations Cup - saw Denmark pull off their second and lesser known miracle acts.

The Danes had famously won the 1992 European Championship despite failing to qualify for the tournament initially. They would take the place of war-ravaged Yugoslavia and sensationally win the tournament, becoming the most romantic story to come out of a major tournament.

Winning the European Championship would qualify the Danes to the King Fahd Cup where the participant number had risen to six. Hosts Saudi Arabia were also joined by Continental Champions Argentina, Japan, Nigeria and Mexico.

While defending Champions Argentina were favoured to retain the title, Denmark had in their ranks the greatest brothers to ever play international football together – The Laudrup brothers.

The elder Michael had famously declined to be part of the 92 Euro team, preferring to rest and proclaiming that his side had no chance of winning the Euros – only to see his brother Brian play the leading role in Denmark winning the title. This time though, the Laudrup brothers would grace the King Fahd II Stadium together.

Brian would score in Denmark’s opening game, a 2-0 victory over the hosts. The deciding group game against Mexico would finish in a 1-1 draw and a penalty shootout would decide which team made it to the final.

Michael would be one of the four Danish players to score from the spot as Denmark progressed 4-2 on penalties. Defending Champions Argentina would meet Denmark in the final, the former having edged past Nigeria on goals scored to reach the summit clash.

The Argentines would concede a penalty as early as the eight minute and poetically, Michael Laudrup would step up and calmly slot the ball past Carlos Bossio to give the Danes a 1-0 advantage. Peter Rasmussen would double the advantage in the 75th minute and the match ended 2-0 in favour of the Scandinavians, delivering them a second International title in three years.

#3 Argentina – 1992

Gabriel Batistuta would be the joint top scorer as Argentina won the Confederations Cup in 1992

1992 was the first edition of the soon-to-be Confederations Cup which was then known as the King Fahd Cup after the King of Saudi Arabia. It was the only edition of the tournament not to feature a group stage and consisted of only four teams – hosts and Asian Champions Saudi Arabia, Copa America winners Argentina, CONCACAF winners the United States and African Champions Ivory Coast.

Two goals from Gabriel ‘Batigol’ Batistuta would help Argentina thrash Ivory Coast 4-0 in the first semifinal whereas the Saudis made their home fans proud with a 3-0 defeat of the United States in the other semi-final.

The Asians had high hopes of winning the title named after their King in the stadium which was also named after him, but the Albiceleste put paid to that ambition when they scored twice in under 25 minutes at the King Fahd II Stadium in Riyadh.

Diego Simeone would score a third for Argentina in the 64th minute before Saeed Al Owairan pulled one back for the Arabians. The match finished 3-1 to the Argentines as they became the first nation to win the World Cup, the Continental title and the Confederations Cup.

#2 France – 2001 & 2003

French and Cameroon players with a picture of Marc-Vivien Foe after the 2003 final

The glorious French team that won the FIFA World Cup in 1998 would confirm its position as one of the all-time greats by winning Euro 2000 and the 2001 Confederations Cup. Despite resting both Zinedine Zidane and Thierry Henry, France crushed South Korea 5-0 and Mexico 4-0 in the group stages, despite suffering a 1-0 reverse at the hands of Australia.

But goals from top scorer Robert Pires and Marsell Desailley would see off Brazil in the semi-finals before facing a surprisingly adept Japan in the title clash. Patrick Viera’s goal would eventually beat the Japanese as Les Blues celebrated the only piece of silverware missing from their collection.

Two years later, France would host the Confederations Cup under very different circumstances. Reeling from an embarrassing first-round exit at the 2002 World Cup, the French side’s confidence was low.

The edition was also tarnished by the refusal of Germany, Italy and Spain to represent Europe in the competition – the continent would eventually be represented by World Cup bronze medallists Turkey.

France would eventually win all its group matches and reach the final against an inspired Cameroon side. The Africans had eliminated Brazil in the group stages and beat Colombia in the semi-finals, though the last victory came at a price.

Midfielder Marc-Vivien Foe collapsed on the field during the semi-final due to heart failure and died at a nearby medical centre shortly afterwards.

Despite both France and Cameroon players urging FIFA to abandon the final, the title match went on, with Thierry Henry scoring a golden goal to win it for France. French Captain Desailly would hold the Cup in unison with Cameroon skipper Rigobert Song out of respect for Foe, who would be awarded the Bronze Ball posthumously.

#1 Brazil – 1997, 2005, 2009 and 2013

Romario and Ronaldo would lead Brazil to the title in 1997

By far the most successful team in the Confederations Cup, Brazil have won the tournament a whopping four times out of the seven editions that they have competed in. In addition to their victorious campaigns, Brazil were finalists in 1999 and finished fourth in 2001.

1997 was the first time that the Brazilians captured the title. The dream pairing of Romario and Ronaldo would score 11 goals between them in five games as the South Americans topped their group and dispatched the Czech Republic in the semifinals before crushing Australia 6-0 to land their first title.

Eight years later, Brazil would travel to Germany with one of the most talented squads ever assembled and promptly won the competition again. The team comprising of Ronaldinho, Kaka, Adriano and Robinho would beat Germany and fierce rivals Argentina on course to winning the title, with Adriano top scoring with five goals.

Brazil would win the next two editions of the Cup as well, with a masterful second half performance overturning a 0-2 deficit against the United States to win the title in 2009 and winning every single match during an utterly dominating performance in 2013.

The latter tournament saw the star turn of Neymar who was awarded the Golden Ball as goals from him and a double from the top scoring Fred resulted in World Champions Spain getting outclassed 3-0 in the final.

In fact, the winner of this year’s edition will break Brazil’s hold on the title that has stood for 12 years.

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